Protect Yourself and Your Home: preparing for hurrricane season
Another hurricane season is here, and while mother nature has its own will, you can be prepared for the uncertainty that Southeast Texas faces every year by simply following these steps and using these resources.
Plan your evacuation route ahead of time
In case of a mandatory evacuation, it’s important to have a plan in place of where you will evacuate to, how you will get there, and where you will stay. There is nothing more frustrating than coming up with these details when you have the stress of a hurricane approaching. Make a point of having this discussion with your family, and that everyone understands the plan.
Discuss Responsibilities and Assign tasks to family members
Do you have any elderly people in your family? Extended family members that are single mothers? The possibilities are endless in multigenerational and blended families. Discuss among family members who will be responsible for picking up grandma in case of an evacuation, the possibility of evacuating with other extended family members, and how you can share resources if needed.
Stock up on Supplies Early
One way to be prepared is to stock up on non-perishable foods, bottled water, extra medication, and hygiene supplies before a hurricane ever enters our gulf. If you are unsure on what kinds of supplies you should bring during an evacuation, you can find a comprehensive list on ready.gov. Once a local weatherman or woman announces that a hurricane is in our waters, people will begin to flood the stores looking to buy everything off the shelves, and if you don’t get supplies early, you may be doing without some essential items.
You may be thinking that getting a ton of food supplies isn’t “necessary”, because you’ll always plan to evacuate when a storm is headed our way. However, it could prove difficult to evacuate in certain circumstances and it’s better to be prepared than to do without. Aside from food items, acquiring necessary medications can be challenging in an emergency because medical offices and pharmacies could be closed for several days. Some ways to prepare for your medical needs in an emergency are as follows:
- List: Keep a list of all medications that you take. You may even want to take pictures of your medications, to be sure that you get all the information correct, or use an app to keep track of your meds, such as MyMeds app for Apple or Android.
- Supply: If possible, maintain at least a week’s supply of each medication.
- Safeguard: Place medication bottles or packages in water-tight containers.
- Storage: Have ice packs available for refrigerated medications.
If there is a possibility of you staying at home when a hurricane approaches, it’s important to have other necessary supplies, such as gas for a generator, batteries for flashlights and other devices.
Have an emergency fund
Hurricanes can be disastrous and cause irrefutable damage to neighborhoods and entire communities. However, hurricanes have two things that differentiate themselves from most natural disasters. First, hurricanes usually give warning signs on whether a particular area could be impacted and what that time frame looks like. Lastly, if you live in an area such as Southeast Texas, you know the probability of being directly affected by a hurricane or tropical storm increases each year that one doesn’t hit the area. By knowing this information, you can better prepare for potential disasters by setting up a “hurricane fund.”
This fund can function exactly as a savings account. Each paycheck, you can allocate a small amount of money to this fund so that when a hurricane does impact our area, you can have the money to evacuate and offset the costs of food, shelter, and other necessities. If every family would set aside only $20 every week, you could have over one thousand dollars in an emergency account every year. That money can then be compounded each year that it isn’t used. You can easily set up automatic transfers on payday or the first of the month via online banking.
Protect important documentation
Protect your important documents such as social security cards, birth certificates, passports, insurance information, tax information, and other types of paperwork. One thing you can do to help protect your information is to buy a water and fireproof safe box. If it’s larger in size, you can store it in your house while you are away, or if it’s portable, you can take it with you when you evacuate.
Take an inventory of your personal property
Creating a home inventory will prepare you in case you must file a claim with your insurance company due to losses. If you have a comprehensive list of items within your home, you will be able to evaluate whether you have enough insurance to cover the loss of your possessions and give you the opportunity to purchase more if needed. It could also speed up the claim process if you end up needing to file a claim and could prove to be valuable if you end up wanting to apply for federal or state aid.
One thing you will want to do is take pictures and video of your possessions. This proof of possession will make the insurance company less likely to question you in the event of a claim. You can even use a app to keep track of your possessions, such as Home Contents. You may also want to check on your current insurance coverage and purchase flood insurance if you don’t already have it. Keep in mind that flood insurance has a 30-day wait period in the state of Texas, before it goes into effect.
Planning for Pets and Service Animals
If you have pets, it’s important to plan for their needs in case you must evacuate or are stuck at the house with little access to supplies. We have compiled a list of supplies that you may want to pack for your pets in case of an evacuation.
- Food supplies/treats: Prepare containers of food or treats so that you can ensure that your pet has their food on the road in case stores are not open or don’t have your dog’s food in stock.
- Crate or pet carrier: If your pet is crate/kennel trained, be sure to bring it to your destination. This will allow you to have a safe place for your pet when you must leave them in the hotel or Airbnb.
- Microchip/Identification: If your pet has not been microchipped by your vet, you may want to consider it in case of an emergency. If your pet has a collar with a tag, be sure to put it on your pet before evacuating. In case your pet gets lost on the road or in a different town, you have a chance that they will be returned to you due to the proper identification or microchip.
- Familiar items: Does your pet have a favorite blanket, or favorite toy? Whatever your pet has that reminds them of home, be sure to bring that in case of a mandatory evacuation.
- Water: Very important! If you are buying water for yourself, you need to buy that much more water for your pet in case of an emergency.
Make sure you have access to your money during a mandatory evacuation
Direct Deposit: If you have set up a direct deposit into your Education First FCU account, your funds will be accessible even if you have evacuated. Direct deposit eliminates the possibility of checks being lost, misplaced, or stolen.
Online Banking: Online Banking allows you to access and manage your funds as long as you are anywhere with internet connection.
iPay: No need for stamps, envelopes, or trips to the post office. You can pay all your bills in just a few minutes using iPay.
iTalk: If phone systems are functional, you can utilize our iTalk service, formally called Touch Tone Teller. This is a simple and convenient way to access funds.
Debit Card: Use your Education First debit card anywhere that accepts VISA. Since local daily limits could be lowered during a disaster, be sure to have enough cash on hand. With an Education First FCU Debit Card, you will have several offerings through card management that will allow you to receive activity alerts, spending limits, transaction types, and even allow you to shut off your card via online banking in case of fraud.
Credit Card: Do not deplete your cash. Emergency expenditures could be more than you anticipate. Click here to apply for an Education First Credit Card.
Co-op shared branching network: Education First belongs to the CO-OP Shared Branching Network, which means you can access your accounts from thousands of locations across the nation, Puerto Rico, Guam, and military bases around the world. Click here for a list of our shared branching networks.
You can check out our Hurricane Resource page on our website. If you have a problem making a loan payment during a natural disaster, we encourage you to contact us by phone (409) 898-3770, or secure chat via online banking.